Former Burundi prime minister arrested

The former prime minister of Burundi, Alain Guillaume, has been arrested, the country’s justice ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Alain Guillaume Bunyoni was prime minister from June 2020 to September 2022, when he was sacked after the president accused unnamed people of planning a coup against him.

“Alain Guillaume Bunyoni is currently in the hands of the police,” said a statement signed by the General Prosecutor Sylvestre Nyandwi and shared by the justice ministry.

Bunyoni was arrested in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Friday, Nyandwi said.

The statement did not specify where he was being held or the charges he would be facing.

The country’s human rights commission tweeted that representatives had visited Bunyoni in detention and said he had not faced any abuse.

Bunyoni was considered the number two in the country’s ruling party and was a close ally of former president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died in office in 2020.

Bunyoni has been under U.S. sanctions since 2015 over his alleged role in violating human rights during violence sparked by Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office.

Nkurunziza’s administration foiled a coup attempt in 2015 and violence erupted, killing at least a thousand Burundians and forcing 400,000 people to flee abroad.

The country became an international pariah as a result, with donors cutting aid and the U.S. and EU placing sanctions on some officials.

Bunyoni was security minister during the unrest.

The East African nation of 11 million people is one of the world’s poorest countries.

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